The Vodacom Stormers are determined to turn things around when they take on the Hurricanes in the FMG Stadium, Palmerston North, on Saturday in their fifth round Vodacom Super 14 match.
Kobus van der Merwe and his troops are under pressure to win after suffering three defeats in four outings thus far. But according to the coach the mood in the camp is still upbeat.
“The guys know that they let themselves down against the Highlanders and are determined to rectify matters this week. It is tough after another loss but the captain and vice captain and senior players have been instrumental in ensuring that the guys remain focussed and motivated.”
Van der Merwe said the Stormers could have won last Saturday’s game against the Highlanders in Dunedin, but were their own biggest enemies. “Too many mistakes and failure to execute as planned let to our downfall,” he explained.
“We have put the loss behind us, we can’t change it and now we are focussing on how we can put things right against the Hurricanes.”
The Stormers have a talented squad on paper, but thus far they have failed to really gel as a team. Van der Merwe said if he knew what the problem was, the Stormers probably would have come away with a victory last weekend.
“As I said I think a lot of where we fall down is in decision making and execution of plays. If we can apply what we do in practice we will play like a team.”
The former Griquas and Border coach said he doesn’t agree with people who reckon some of the players in the squad find the transition from Currie Cup to Super 14 level too tough to handle.
“There are a few guys playing their first Super 14 and that does count for something. By the same token there are some senior players who have the experience and whose role it is to mentor the new guys. There is no one who is out of their depth in the squad.”
Van der Merwe expects another tough day at the office for the Stormers. “They are very physical and we expect that they will take us on up front. Rucks and mauls will be a key area where we will need to protect our ball.
“They will be without Tana Umaga in midfield but still have a formidable back division and we will be looking to play it tight on defence.”
Hurricanes: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Lome Fa’atau, 13 Ma’a Nonu, 12 Tamati Ellison, 11 David Smith, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Serge Lilo, 6 Luke Andrews, 5 Bernie Upton, 4 Paul Tito (c), 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Tone Kopelani, 1 John Schwalger
16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Bradley Mika, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Blair Stewart, 22 Conrad Smith/Shannon Paku
Vodacom Stormers: 15 Brent Russell, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Conrad Jantjes, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Bolla Conradie, 8 Justin Melck, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Gerrie Britz, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 JD Moller
16 Schalk Brits, 17 Eddie Andrews, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Francois van der Merwe, 20 JP Joubert, 21 Corne Uys, 22 Gio Aplon
Referee: Matt Goddard (Australia).
Kick-off: 08:05 (SA time).